Merge elite unis with ex-polys and get rid of undergrads at Oxbridge, says top prof
Roderick Floud wants to halve the number of unis
One of Britain’s leading academics has spoken out in favour of shutting or merging up to half of Britain’s universities.
Sir Roderick Floud called for universities like Oxford, Leeds and Sheffield to merge with “secondary” universities like Brookes, Met and Hallam.
And in comments before a valedictory speech at Gresham College, London, he slammed the British Higher Education system (or “non-system”, in his opinion), dubbing it “messy” and “muddled”.
The ex-VC of London Met studied at Oxford University, then went on to obtain a doctorate at Oxford’s Nuffield College.
He dedicated the entirety of his life after graduation to working in academia – and was knighted for it.
“We don’t need two or more universities in each of our major cities, glowering at each other and competing to attract the attentions of businesses and local authorities,” said Sir Roderick.
“Why does Leeds or Sheffield or Oxford, for example, need two vice-chancellors, registrars or groups of governors?”
He also thinks that too many universities are becoming “inefficient” because they try to multitask too much; many universities now serve as research facilities , locations for conferences, and providers of massive ranges of courses for both undergrads and postgrads.
“We have too many universities, trying to do too many different things,” he said.
“The way we fund their research is fundamentally flawed.”
There are only 150 Universities in the whole of Britain, but this number is way too high for Floud’s liking.
The academic has also voiced these opinions in the Times Higher Education magazine, where he said it was “unnecessary” for cities to have multiple universities.
Universities Minister David Willetts is keen to create new campuses in British cities which lack them.
The Coalition has upgraded multiple small or specialist organisations to University status, bumping up the number of uni’s Britain-wide.
Oliver Eagle, an Engineering student at Surrey, said “I can understand Floud wanting to shut some universities, because it would potentially increase the availability of jobs requiring a degree. At the moment, there are more graduates than jobs.
“I think it’s too easy to get into uni at the moment, almost everyone can get into a uni somewhere. However, maybe shutting half of universities is a bit much.”
Sussex Media Studies student Amber-Louise Roberts agrees. She said “the trouble with universities in Britain is that they are trying too hard to do as much as they can in order to obtain lots of applicants.
“They are opening up new courses left right and center, which isn’t really achieving anything.
“Sussex is falling down the league tables, and I can see why; they have far too much to offer, and provide little specialist help and support from tutors.
“I for one have spent hours asking tutors for help, but ultimately, I’m paying £9000 a year to sit and watch tutorials online.”
“I personally think that if universities want to improve, they need to personally need to look at the quality of the teaching, not the quantity of services and courses that they offer.”
Dan Fuller, a Sussex English Language student said: “As someone who has gone to university later in life, I was exceedingly grateful to have such a wide variety of institutions to choose from. If someone makes the choice to continue with their education, then why should there be restrictions put on where they get to go?”
“I don’t think that school leavers feeling pressured to go to uni is down to having a huge number of universities available. I think that’s often down to pressure from family or society in general”
Samantha Nicholls, a Science student also at Sussex, said: “Sir Floud [sic] is clearly trying to make university education less accessible and only something those from either wealthy backgrounds or exceptional academics can hope to attain. He also seems to be forgetting that properly taught undergraduates make for successful post-grads and PhD students, so almost ‘segregating’ the two demographics is frankly insane.”
“Universities are all businesses at the end of the day. They take in millions of pounds per term from their students to provide services in return for those fees. Businesses need people to help run them or they collapse. I can’t understand why Sir Floud feels the provision of these services is a bad thing.”
The Russell Group were unwilling to comment.
Universities UK, headed by Floud in the past said: “We have not issued and will not issue any response to Prof. Sir Roderick Floud’s speech”